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Established by the American Health Care Association in 1967, National Skilled Nursing Week (formerly known as National Nursing Home Week) provides an opportunity to recognize the role of skilled nursing care centers in caring for America’s seniors and people with disabilities. This year’s theme is “Celebrating Life’s Stories.”

Susan Kimball Halpern, vice president of philanthropy at JGS Lifecare, a leading health care system serving seniors and their families, said that their goal across the JGS Lifecare campus of care is to redefine aging.

“Our philosophy centers on maximizing elderhood,” said Halpern. “We’re taking a precious life stage and placing the emphasis on life. We do this by taking the time to personally get to know each resident so that we can provide them with care and activities that bring meaning to their lives.”

George Groom of Agawam talked about what this means for Gina, his wife of 57 years, who has lived at the Leavitt Family Jewish Home on the JGS Lifecare campus for over four years.

“She gets excellent care 24/7, which I couldn’t do at home,” said Groom. “All the CNAs, the nurses, the staff and Life Enrichment, they go out of their way to make sure everyone’s comfortable and has an activity to do. They keep them busy.”

He said Gina, who is suffering from dementia, enjoys ice cream, a craving she indulges nearly every day. “She loves her ice cream sundaes. They have a great coffee shop here and we go just about every day and she gets a big sundae. That’s how I stay on her good side,” laughed Groom. “She loves it.”

Groom said his wife enjoys many of the activities at JGS Lifecare, including bowling, baking, and a type of volleyball they play with a large, inflated beach ball. “She loves whapping that thing around,” he said.

Groom also experienced the care at JGS Lifecare for himself when he spent three weeks at the Sosin Center for Rehabilitation after knee replacement surgery.

“They took great care of me,” he said. “I actually wanted to stay; I didn’t want to go home. My home is not this good,” he laughed. “You get up to a great breakfast, you have a great lunch, it’s all home cooked. Whatever your rehab is, they get you back on your feet.”

Groom is grateful for the care his wife receives. “The care is above reproach. I feel 100 percent confident that she’s getting great care every day. She’s healthy––very healthy. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t think she’d be here right now.”